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Suspect in Mass. Store Shooting Arrested

December 17, 2003

WORCESTER, N.Y. (AP) _ A man wanted in a shooting that wounded two men at a Massachusetts home supply store was arrested in upstate New York early Wednesday after a brief highway chase, authorities said.

Mark Anthony LeBreton, a 38-year-old contractor, was accused of shooting a former business collaborator and a second man Monday at a Lowe’s Home Improvement store in Worcester, Mass.

The shooting touched off a two-day manhunt through Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New York that ended with LeBreton’s arrest in Worcester, N.Y., about 50 miles southwest of Albany.

State police said officers spotted LeBreton at about 7:15 a.m. on Interstate 88, and six police cars became involved in the chase. Trooper Bill Khachadourian said in the end, LeBreton threw a handgun out his car window and did not put up any resistance.

Worcester, Mass., police Sgt. Gary Quitadamo said LeBreton was in custody on two counts of armed assault with intent to murder and two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon. He was expected to be brought back to Massachusetts to face the charges.

Steven Collins, a neighbor of LeBreton’s, was in critical condition Wednesday at UMass Memorial Medical Center with a bullet wound to his neck. James Walling, a Lowe’s employee who apparently did not know LeBreton, was recovering from a gunshot wound to the shoulder.

Collins, a contractor who installs equipment for Lowe’s customers, had done business with LeBreton, but somewhere their relationship soured, authorities said. Both live in Auburn, just south of Worcester, Mass.

``Our investigation indicates a business association did exist between the seriously injured victim and the suspect,″ Quitadamo said. ``We have not been able to establish a specific motive or set of events that led to the shooting.″

LeBreton’s brother, an Oxford, Mass., police officer, had alerted officers just before the shooting that his brother was armed and suicidal, Auburn Police Chief William E. Stone said.

Phone calls LeBreton allegedly made Tuesday afternoon led the investigation to upstate New York. Earlier, there had been a sighting in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

Authorities had said LeBreton had a semiautomatic handgun and an AK-47 assault rifle.

LeBreton’s father, Leo LeBreton, said from his home in Laurens, S.C., that he was relieved his son had been caught.

``My prayer now is the other person survives his injuries,″ he said. ``Half the nightmare is over. That’s the next part.″

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